There is no question that hosting a virtual conference is a lot easier than it was even three years ago. There are more platforms to choose from, better features, and your audience is a lot more comfortable with virtual events. So it’s easy to see why people feel like finding the right platform is all they need for their virtual event to be a hit. But virtual healthcare events need more than just a great platform to be a success.
From the moment you decide to hold the event, you need to get the word out. There are a thousand ways to approach this but the key to all of it is to start early. Even if you’re still deciding on the platform, even if you aren’t sure of the exact date, let people know it’s coming. It’s a basic tenet of marketing that people need to hear something several times before they take action. So the earlier you start talking about your event, the more often people will hear about it, and the more likely they are to attend.
One step beyond simple awareness-raising is building a community. While random attendees are always welcome, your event will grow faster and attract more attention if you have a core community enthusiastic about it. To achieve this, you need to build networking and bonding activities into your calendar, months before your event. You need to have break-out sessions and other networking opportunities for these folks to connect at your event. And you need to continue fostering those bonds long afterwards.
It can be tricky in your first year to attract sponsors but it can be done. If you have a history of hosting other events, that can help. But all you really need is clarity on who your attendees will be and an idea of how many of them will likely attend. Sponsors like to know they will have time to showcase their solutions or get their name in front of their target audience. Help them see that their audience is your audience.
Offer Continuing Education Credits
Depending on your audience, your event may benefit from offering continuing education credits. These require some prep time to pull together, especially because different states can have different requirements. If your audience is a mix of healthcare providers, you will have even more need of prep time because each license has its own requirements.
Communicate with Speakers
There is a lot of back-and-forth involved in selecting speakers for your event. You may need to put out a wide call for speakers or you may already have a few people in mind. Either way, you will need to let them know how long you want them to speak, what track they will be on, if they need to hang around for Q&A sessions or panel sessions, and how they will get their slides and downloads to you.
Answer Participant Questions
No matter how clear you are with your website or how seamless your registration process is, participants will always have questions. They will want to know about registration, even though the details are on the registration page. They will want to know if you are still looking for speakers. They will want to know how the networking sessions will work. Do all you can to give people information on your website – but know you will still be answering questions. Sometimes those questions are the path people take to get comfortable enough to register.
Above all, a successful virtual conference needs to generate enthusiasm for the next year’s event. After you’ve invested so much time and energy, why make it hard for yourself? Ride the wave so you can get a head start building excitement for the coming year.
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